Navigating False Paternity Claims: Can You Sue for False Paternity in Texas?

In a recent case handled by the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, an individual found himself asking, “Can you sue for false paternity in Texas?” He was in a distressing predicament. He needed help from a family law attorney. This gentleman was going about his daily life when he received an unexpected letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division.

Upon opening the letter, he found a notice that claimed he owed over $15,000 in child support arrears. This left him in a state of complete and utter shock. Most of us can empathize with the disbelief he must have felt.

This shock was entirely justified because our former client did not have any children. This wasn’t a case of a hidden child from a past relationship suddenly surfacing, demanding child support that had gone unnoticed. The truth was that our client knew the woman named as the child’s mother on the paperwork. She was an old high school friend with whom he had a close but strictly platonic relationship. Moreover, the child in question was not biologically his.

Taking Action and Asking the Right Questions

Instead of brushing aside the letter as a possible mistake that would eventually resolve itself, our former client decided to take a proactive stance. He consulted several family law attorneys, including our office, to explore his options.

Ultimately, he chose the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, to represent him in addressing this perplexing situation.

His main query was straightforward: “Can a man in my situation, with limited financial means, challenge a false designation as the father of a child he knows is not his?”

Can You Sue for False Paternity in Texas?

Regrettably, in Texas, there are numerous parents who shirk their responsibility to support their children, typically referring to fathers in these cases. The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcing child support payments, and the majority of letters, including the one received by our client, pertain to legitimate cases where parents indeed owe child support.

However, our client was an exception to this norm. The mother of the child had falsely claimed him as the father to fraudulently collect child support. Unfortunately, the State often conducts minimal investigations into such claims.

Complicating matters, our client had received a notice of a court date to determine paternity but missed the hearing due to not receiving the notification. As a result, the State initiated efforts to collect back child support from another absentee parent.

A Positive Change in Texas Law in 2011

Fortunately, a significant change occurred in Texas law in 2011, benefiting men in situations like our client’s. This law allowed men to request DNA/paternity testing even after a court had previously declared them the child’s father. If the DNA test proved that they were not the biological father, the court could terminate any future child support obligations.

This contrasted sharply with the pre-2011 law, where the law forced some men to pay child support for children they had not biologically fathered, with no option to challenge paternity after legal proceedings. This could be particularly devastating for men with limited incomes who had to support their biological families in addition to the falsely claimed child.

The statute in question is Section 161.005 within the Texas Family Code. Essentially, it gave men previously declared as biological fathers in court proceedings the power to request DNA testing if no tests had been conducted before. A negative DNA test result would eliminate future child support and sever the parent-child relationship with the falsely claimed child.

However, it’s crucial to note that this statute applied only to cases filed before September 1, 2012. Beyond that date, if someone attempts to challenge paternity and the court determines they were aware they were not the father or should have realized it based on circumstances, the child support order remains in place, and the parent-child relationship persists.

The Valuable Lesson Post-September 1, 2012

Given that we are now past September 1, 2012, the lesson to be learned is clear. Attend any court hearings related to challenging or admitting paternity of a child. The State of Texas aims to preserve parental rights for children, believing it’s in their best interest to have both a mother and a father. Nevertheless, being aware of your rights and safeguarding them remains essential.

If you have questions regarding DNA and paternity issues or are wondering, “Can you sue for false paternity in Texas?” don’t hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.

A free consultation with one of our family law attorneys is just a phone call away. The case involving our former client is an extreme example. However, it underscores how the legal system can impact individuals who fail to take immediate action. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, serves clients across southeast Texas. We are here to assist you in understanding and addressing your legal concerns.

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  1. Challenging a paternity finding in Texas
  2. How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
  3. Full Custody: What it means to you and what it can mean for your child custody case
  4. Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
  5. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  6. Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  7. Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
  8. Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
  9. What rights does a father have in Texas?
  10. Fathers’ Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?
  11. Mom Versus Dad Who Gets the rights? – Custodial Rights Vs. Non-Custodial Rights in Texas
  12. Husband Not the Father, what do I do in a Texas Divorce?
  13. I am not the biological father, but I want to be – Paternity by Estoppel?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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